We actually use 2 bags to make this process work well – an inner bag and an outer bag. The outer bags are “normal” coffee bags that are foil lined, zip-sealed with a one-way valve. These are the bags that you would be used to seeing specialty coffee contained in. The outer bags are the “problem” bags with no good current solutions from a waste perspective. Reducing the impact these bags have on the environment is the purpose of this program, and this is based on multiple customer requests.
We use an inner bag inside of these outer coffee bags which is a very basic paper bag, like what you may remember using as a lunch bag in school (if you’re old enough). These are lightweight and have almost no protective qualities at all. They have no lining – just thin paper.
Coffee subscribers start with new outer coffee bags with their name printed on the label. Their coffee is placed inside a thin paper bag, and then that bag is placed into the outer protective bag. The purpose of the inner bag is to stop the coffee from coming into contact with the outer bag, which keeps the outer bag clean.
When the coffee arrives, the customer removes the inner paper bag and pours the beans or grinds into a container at home. The inner paper bag can then be recycled or put in a household compost bin. The inner paper bag is only ever used once – it has now served it’s purpose of stopping the coffee coming into direct contact with the outer bag. The reality is the inner bag has minimal impact on the environment when compared to the outer bag.
The outer protective coffee bag can then be placed into the return envelope and posted back to us in time for the subscribers next order. This is the "problem" bag and we can use it over and over again. This bag has many wonderful qualities – it keeps the coffee fresh and safe from the outside world. By creating the opportunity for it to be reused, we have actually turned it’s biggest weakness (the fact that it doesn’t degrade quickly) into it’s biggest strength.
A key feature of the program is that customers get their name on the original new outer bags. This means that they will only ever get their own bag in subsequent deliveries. There is no sharing of bags.
This program is simple, convenient and cost-effective. While there will be additional cost and effort for the business, the effort required from our customers is nothing more than mailing a letter. The convenience of having coffee turn up on your doorstep every month will more than make up for this small effort.
Ready to give it a try? Head over here.
Have some environmental objections? We discuss some of them here.